Thursday, August 16, 2018

R-E-S-P-E-C-T ARETHA FRANKLIN


Such a loss...The Queen of Soul earned that title. 
As I type this we are listening to some of her greatest hits playing in the background...

Respect
Chain of Fools
Son of a Preacher Man
Natural Woman
Freeway of Love
Sweet Sweet Baby
Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing
I Say a Little Prayer
Spanish Harlem
Save Me
What a Fool Believes

...and the list goes on and on.

One of my personal faves was a duet, later in her career.  I Knew You Were Waiting, her duet with the late George Michael.



I hope George was right there waiting for her...

Rest in Peace Aretha

RED BARN FLOWERS INSPIRATION THURSDAY


Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm. Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!


Instead of focusing so much around the house, I've been thinking lately about moving over to the barn and shed.  They just sort of sit there in the yard with nothing around them.  We'd like the to have some color and decorative elements.

And for sure, there is something about flowers around a red barn that is just striking.  Above are sunflowers. Is there anything happier looking than a group of sunflowers?  


And this patch of zinnias against the red of the barn is really nice too.  I suppose these would be easier to put down and just let them grow.  Sunflowers might need a bit more care. But whatever we choose they are definitely pretty.  

Be inspired! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

ROASTED ITALIAN LINKS AND VEGETABLES SHEET PAN RECIPE


Here's another quick sheet pan supper that I made the other night.  It's a variation (different veggies, different sausage) on another that we cook. 


These use a package of shish kabob veggies which of course make it quick because they are already cut up into the right size pieces.  These are bell peppers (red, orange, green) along with mushrooms, onions, zucchini and yellow squash.  


I slide them off the skewers and place them in a Ziploc bag along with some seasoning and a little olive oil (about 2 tsp just so the seasoning will stick).  Here I used an Italian blend seasoning with oregano, basil, garlic, etc.  You can use whatever combinations you like.  


Then I shake up the bag and make sure all the veggies are seasoned.  


A little drizzle of olive oil on the pan just to make sure nothing sticks (and easy cleanup)...


Then I put some sweet Italian sausage links on the bed of seasoned veggies and popped it in a preheated 425 degree oven.
                                                                                                                                 
Sheet pan Italian sausage and vegetables
Roast for about 30 minutes, turning once, until sausage is cooked and veggies are roasted.


Super simple...


...and super good!

Also one pan cleanup, that's always a welcome thing.  We've served it with rice and other times with mashed potatoes.  So yummy and filling!


Will catch up on comments tonight.

Monday, August 13, 2018

DIGGING HOLES IN CLAY SOIL

A few of you have asked or commented about how we are getting things to grow in our clay soil.  It's not easy that's for sure.  

For the garden and the fruit trees, we build open bottom raised beds.  For the veggies they rarely grow deeper than the height of the raised beds but just like the fruit trees, with the bottom open, as the soil settles and we add compost etc, the worms and other things come in and the clay below the raised beds slowly breaks up and the roots get through it.  

For bushes and plants, we can't just build raised beds everywhere so I did some reading online and found this idea.  It seems crazy but so far it's worked.  

Auger hole in clay soil
First I used the auger that I posted about a couple years back HERE.  It is heavy and takes a lot out of you but it makes life SO much easier at the farm. 

I'd highly recommend something like an auger for plant holes and post holes. It always comes in handy.

Hydrogen Peroxide in clay soil
Next I took some hydrogen peroxide.  WAIT, what?  Hydrogen peroxide?  Yep...I read about it online.  It is supposed to help break up the smooth clay 'walls' inside the hole.  A problem with digging a hole in clay is that the sides smooth out, it hardens and it becomes almost like an "in ground clay pot".  That's how plants can "drown" while in the ground.  

Softening clay soil with Hydrogen Peroxide
Sure enough, after pouring it all around the hole, the clay in the soil seemed to 'melt'down the sides.  I figure it can't hurt and anything to give the plants a head start is good with me.  I used a hand tool to stab into the side walls just so it was all broken up.


I fill the holes about 3/4 full of a special soil that is supposed to prevent over AND under watering.  Not sure how they accomplish that but hey, it sounds like a good solution for a hole that doesn't drain well.  

Planting in clay soil
Finally, I just put the plant in the hole.  I decided to always use the smaller size plants to give their roots a chance to grow into the good soil.  It kind of works like the raised beds, the roots get to develop and grow and by the time they get to the clay, they should be able to penetrate.  So far so good!

I did this with the six Vitex along the driveway.  They are about 6' tall now and started as 1 gallon container plants.  It seems to be working.  This is a Mexican heather plant that I'm testing to see how it does and then I'll do more like this around.  

Have you ever heard of anything like using hydrogen peroxide in a planting hole?

Sunday, August 12, 2018

WEEKEND WASHOUT


To the East it was overcast but blue skies...


...but to the West it was getting darker and darker.  


Sure enough, about 15 minutes after we got there, it was a monsoon rainstorm.  I wish we could send it in to those in the parts of the country and world that need it!  We have more than enough to go around.  

Needless to say, no mowing.  We ended up with about an inch and a half of rain.  I did some things in the house, small projects (more on those upcoming) and then I head back into town.  

Today, Sunday, is rain again.  Not pouring but enough that we can't do anything outside.  Hey, at least I didn't have to water the fruit trees.  


Today we are lunching on one of our favorites.  BLT's.  This is homemade bread, and then of course bacon, lettuce and tomatoes.  I like mayo on mine and 2nd Man likes Miracle whip. 


Aaaaand....obligatory Hobart picture.
Because.  

Hope you are having a good weekend!

Friday, August 10, 2018

ROASTING BASKET FOR THE GRILL

I got a few gift cards for Christmas and birthdays from various friends and family.  With gift cards, we've always tried to keep from just using them for routine stuff.  You know, like using one to fill up with gas or buy cat food or something.  We'd have to buy those things anyway, gift card or not.  To us, a gift card given to us by a loved one should be used for something we wouldn't ordinarily buy or something special we've always wanted but any other time it might seem frivolous.  So we usually just put them up until the time is right (making sure of exp date).

Well this is one of those "I've been eyeballing this for a year" things and as soon as I remembered it, I knew to use one of the cards on this.  


What is this?  It's a roasting basket.  Not self contained of course, this is the kind you put on a grill.  I got this at a local grocery store of all places. They had three of them, then two, and then one.  This one in fact, was the one left. It was on the top shelf and dusty but hey, it was meant to be.  

I bought it and took it to the farm.  It required a small bit of assembly. 


Once done, here it is.  The legs have steel weights in their bottoms so it's heavy and stable.  The basket just sits inside the brackets.


You unlatch and open the basket, put your food inside and close it back. Then you rotate it manually using the handle on the side.  There would be a need to wear gloves of course!

Roasting basket
There are all sorts of ideas on the box. Shrimp and other seafood, veggies, etc but of course the main reason we want it...ROASTED PEPPERS!  

Hatch chilies we buy at the store would be wonderful or of course the peppers we grow in the garden.  

Now we need to get the grills in the ground.  We still have our park style grills we got for such a great deal a couple years ago. We haven't put them in yet because we were waiting to see how we are going to use the property and where they would work best as we clear areas.  We'll see!

Soon we'll be roasting up some good food!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

WHITE FLOWER GARDEN INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm. Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

White flower garden image courtesy of southernliving.com

We've posted some pics of flower theme gardens but I don't think we've ever seen one in all one color.  This is all white and I think it's also known as a "moon garden" because the white flowers in the moonlight seem to take on a. glow of their own.

I have no idea what the flowers are, certainly not what all of them are but still the idea of putting together one flowerbed or one area with all white could be very pretty!

Be inspired!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

BLUEBERRY MUFFINS RECIPE

I don't have step by step photos but we have the recipe! This is 2nd Man's favorite blueberry muffin recipe. He tweaks it on occasion but here is the basic.


He made a batch for me to take to work.  


They are golden on the outside...


...and fluffy and moist on the inside.  

Ingredients:

6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp baking powder
`1 tsp kosher salt
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 whole egg plus 2 egg yolks
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Steps:

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease and flour a muffin tin or use paper liners as he did here.  

Mix flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl.

In another bowl, using mixer on medium speed, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and continue beating.  Then reduce speed to low and add flour mixture alternating with milk until all incorporated. Then gently fold in blueberries.  You want them to remain as whole as possible.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle generously with granulated sugar and bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through.  


Monday, August 6, 2018

SHELVES IN BARN

A couple of months ago, I posted about finding shelves in the downstairs recycling area at our building.  CLICK HERE for that post.  

Recently, I did some rearranging in the barn and put them up.  Part of the problem in the barn is just that everything was just sitting wherever it was when we put it down.  To get organized, we needed to get all the same stuff together.  

So with that being said...


This one is on one side of the main door and is dedicated to beekeeping supplies.  Still more space for more stuff but it'll be nice to keep it all together in one spot.  I'm going to get a coat hook and mount on the wall so that I can hang my bee suit.  Also nice to use some of the containers to store smaller items in.  Now we just need some bees again!


I put the other shelf unit on the other side, opposite the bee shelving for all the grilling and outdoor cooking supplies.  Things like BBQ tools, special pans, basting supplies, accessories, etc.  Those were scattered everywhere, even some in the house.  It was able to be moved out there and since it was on the mudroom shelving, 2nd Man is happy that he has more space inside now too.  


Wait, what's this?
MORE shelving?

Yep!  I did some online research and found matching shelves to the ones that we found.  We did that because a) we needed more shelving in the barn anyway and b) by moving the free ones around we discovered that they would fit in another spot...


And that spot is on each side of the window on the opposite end of the barn.  Here's when I put one of the free ones there to measure.  We found that two of them will fit on each side.  That will give us a LOT of storage in the barn.  And let me get more stuff up off the floor and onto shelves. 

Organizing is a good thing!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

WEEKEND UPDATE DRY AND WET



It was a day of beating the rain. And the heat.  I had to visit a friend in the hospital and it was pouring rain there.  I was hoping that the farm would be drier.


It was but only for a bit.  I didn't have to mow because it's so dry and hot.  This is the grass a week after mowing.  Not much to do in the yard this weekend.  


It was time though to pull the plug on the garden.  I hadn't pulled up the tomato plants yet but you can see, it's just the dog days of Summer.  Everything has stopped.

So I shut off the water valve and turned off the faucet timer.  I was going to pull up the plants this weekend but I didn't have enough time because...


...it got darker and darker and I could hear thunder.  With all the trees around it's not good to be out in the yard so I loaded up the Jeep and headed out.  


The rain came.  Not sure how much we got yet but as I left, it was a pretty heavy rain.  

Hope you are having a good weekend!



Friday, August 3, 2018

TEXAS BOX TURTLE


The other day I was roaming around as I often do, and I saw this little guy/gal sunning itself on a path.  It startled me at first. Of course, anytime I run across an animal at the farm, especially when it's unexpected, it catches me off guard.

Of course these are friendly and peaceful creatures.  I stopped to admire and then left it to continue on its journey, wherever that might have been.

It reminded me of a time a few weeks back, when on the drive to the farm, I saw a turtle in the middle of the road, crossing to the other side.  Afraid of it not making it across in the speeding traffic, I pulled over, made a u-turn and went back to get it.  I waited for another car to pass (this is a back country road but still fairly heavily travelled) and then picked it up, and carried it to the side of road and into the ditch (the direction where it was headed).

Some bicyclists that had ridden by and saw it had turned around to come back and do the exact same thing.  They saw that I had already moved the turtle and they gave me the thumbs up.  

And now, for some reason, I'm sitting at work, daydreaming of turtles...